My point, if I have one

Fit, Even If It Kills Me
January 1, 2010, 4:14 am
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“Would it kill you to go outside and move around a little bit?” asked every 1960s mother of cartoon-watching kids (like me). This was back when TV first began killing children in earnest, but it’s a proud tradition still carried out by today’s mothers of video-gamers. The answer, I have come to believe, is “yes, it might kill me.”

My fitness story is one of pain and injury. If “no pain, no gain” was true, I would be heading for Vancouver this winter to win all the Olympic events. I’ve had enough pain for that much gain.

My fitness experiences can be broken down into four distinct genres, each with its own hazards.

Good Old-Fashioned Hard Work

My first clear memory of feeling fit is back when my parents slaved me out to our family farm for summer work. There’s nothing quite as effective for turning 100 pounds of baby fat into lean muscle mass as picking 100 pound rocks from a field in 100 degree heat. I was doing the job of a front-end loader. About a week after returning home, when the swelling went down, it felt great to be in shape.


For me, competing in sports returned the most fun for my fitness investment. That’s why adults use sports so effectively to trick kids into fitness. Of course, today’s youngsters start working with a professional trainer at age two. I generally didn’t start training for a sport until the day practice started. Thus the term, “hell week.” My sporting years were, sadly, all too brief. I played football until I had a neck injury and concussion, I wrestled until I dislocated a disk and I ran track until it aggravated my back injury. Glory days!


The biggest enemy of fitness in adults is adulthood. When you become an adult, there are fewer sports to be involved in, and no coaches screaming at you to keep going. That’s when you become a “weekend warrior” in the great outdoors. I hunt, which is great exercise involving strenuous walking while carrying a heavy weapon and staying out of range of the Vice-President. I also enjoy cutting, stacking, splitting and burning firewood. This, too is great exercise, and the only hazards are chainsaws, axes and fire. But weekends are not enough, even for warriors. Without consistent exercise, you risk injury. For example, you might tear your ACL on a family ski trip simply because you remember how easily you could charge moguls when you were younger. I’m not saying it happened to me, but it could happen to anyone. Trust me on this.


The least desirable way to get and stay fit is by exercising. I’m referring to exercise “As Seen on TV,” where you can look great for only five easy payments of $29.99. The greatest hazard of this form of fitness is that you may die of boredom. My advice on exercise equipment: buy the device that hold the most laundry. That’s what my Nordic Trak® is doing right now.

My point, if I have one, is that fitness hurts, but it’s worth it. I know, because I’ve tried that weekend warrior thing, and it just isn’t enough. I’ve gained weight, lost energy, don’t sleep well, and, yes, I have just as much pain not exercising as I had when I was in shape. Guess I’m just injury prone.

So now I have to get fit, and it won’t be easy. According to a height/weight chart my life insurance company sent me, I should be at least 6 inches taller. I guess I’ll hit the Nordic Trak® again…as soon as the sweaters are dry.